Welcome to my blog. I don’t post very often but this trip is something I really want to share with you. Thank you for taking the time to read about my trip to Italy which I made in August of 2018. I cannot begin to tell you how amazing it was. Through Instagram I met an amazing photographer by the name of Giulia Orsatti who invited Mandy and I to go visit her in Italy. It didn’t take long for us to book the plane tickets and start counting down the days. I have learned so much, not only about photography but also on a personal level. Aside from the awesome photoshoots, I also had the time to enjoy Italy and learn about its culture. Okay, let’s begin! Day 1 (August 19th)
The departure day arrived and my alarm went off at 4 a.m. to leave for the Airport and catch my flight to Rome. The flight went very smoothly and after two hours spent looking out of the windows, we saw the mountains. Mandy and I are obsessed with mountains, because The Netherlands is as flat as a pancake. You can find more of the BTS pictures on my Instagram. We landed and met Giulia at the airport. Giulia is a 20-year-old photographer based in Fiuggi, Italy. She has been a horse and dog photographer for a few years now and is very talented. We made our way to the heart of Rome where we checked out the Spanish steps, the twin towers and ate bruschetta at a nice restaurant. We also saw the Pantheon, the Colosseum and finally the Forum, which I can only describe as being from another universe. It was so impressive! Rome has been a city I wanted to visit for so many years. I study architecture and have read a lot about those buildings and seeing them in real life was surreal. I absolutely loved Rome.
After that, we took the train to Fiuggi. We arrived at Giulia’s place and met her family and her cute corgi dog named Whisky, all of whom were very welcoming. After nice dinner (we had lasagne – gosh I love Italian food <3) we went to our hotel named Trieste. The hosts were so so nice to us.
Day 2 (August 20th)
We woke up at 8 a.m. for our very first photo session. We met the horse owners Valentina and Alessandro. Alessandro has worked in the Appassionata horse show. You could see the special bond he has with his horses. For the first photo session he took his young palomino horse named Spartacus and a pinto horse named Chanel to a beautiful lake called Canterno. The location was so beautiful with the mountains in the background. Both the models and owner were fantastic! After the photo session, we had a rest and enjoyed Fiuggi which is famous for its water which has natural healing properties. The city is divided into two parts: The old and the new town. Our next shooting location was in the old town.
For our next photo session Giulia had organized a contest called Happy horse. The idea was to photograph a horse in the old town. The horse owner Martina Meloni brought her incredibly well behaved horse named Ugola. She even went up and down stairs. She was so elegant and fit perfectly into the atmosphere and setting of the Old Town. Together with 5 other photographers, we took photos of Ugola. We were on a pretty narrow street and with a horse in town the people living there became curious and wanted to watch, so I ended up editing a lot of people out of these pictures. But that’s okay because the vibe was so nice and I enjoyed it a lot!
Day 3 (August 21st)
We woke up at 7 a.m. to beat the heat and photograph in the morning light. Unfortunately, the light was already pretty bright when we arrived. This shoot was again with Alessandro, but this time we photographed his white Spanish horse and his show team. This was so impressive. The horses knew exactly what to do and were really focussed on Alessandro. It was amazing to witness and photograph them.
After the photo session, I only had 15 minutes left to edit my pictures from the old town shooting to have them printed before the contest. That evening we went to the town where we saw all the results of the other photographers. It was impressive to see all the different styles and results. The winner was a stunning picture made by Palmiro. He did an amazing job capturing the old town.
Day 4 (August 22nd)
On the fourth day we had a really special shoot planned. We woke up at 7 a.m. to go on a two hour drive to Vulci in Tuscany. Eight typical Italian horses with their riders were waiting for us. They are called the Maremmano horses and were originally bred to herd Maremma’s cows. You can describe the Butteri as the Italian cowboys. It is crucial for the horse and rider to be on the same page because you have to act quickly and move fast. We had permission to shoot at the location special thanks to the Vulci parc. The first location was at a small lake which has a tiny waterfall.
The second location was a place with old ruins.
The third location was at a castle and a mountain in the background.
After the photo session we went to the stables to have lunch. We had some very interesting conversations and I learned a lot more about the breed. The Maremmano breed generally stands between 152 and 160 cm and is usually bay, brown, dark chestnut or black, although gray and roan are occasionally seen. It has a long, slightly heavy head, a muscular neck that is broad at the base, a full chest and sloping shoulders. The back is short and the legs solid and sturdy with good joints and strong hooves. The breed is known for its solidity and their ability to adapt to bad weather and rough terrain.
Finally it was time for the last photo session of this trip. Gianluigi, the owner of the maremmano stallion brought his horse to this unique location. We had permission to shoot in Chiostro di Sant’Agostino. The owner of the horse perfectly described it as: ‘Senza tempo’ which means ‘A place where time had stopped’. To combine architecture and equine photography has always been on my bucket list. The light streamed perfectly into the church. I noticed how the light touched the horse, perfectly illuminating the stallion. I tried a different angle and at that precise moment the horse looked a little to the right and a snapped this shot:
I looked at my camera and I was taken aback. I had this feeling I couldn’t described. These are the moments when you know you have found your passion. Little did I know that this picture would become one of the 15 finalists in the National Geographic Photo contest. I will hear the results very soon and update you guys here. Now I understand why I got that feeling. I cannot even begin to describe how amazing this shoot was and it will be one I’ll never forget. Special thanks again to Gianluigi!
UPDATE – We did it!! With this photo I won the ‘publieksprijs’ of the National Geographic Photocontest! I still can’t believe it! Thank you so much for everyone who voted! <3
Day 5 (August 23rd)
And that was it. We packed our bags and left for the airport. I left Italy feeling empty but full at the same time. I mis the Italian vibe of not having to worry and remembering to just chill. I miss the nice food and the kind people who give so much yet expect nothing in return. That has inspired me to be more giving myself. It has been a couple of months but when I think back I get all happy inside. A special thank you to all the models who took time out of their days to prepare their horses and work with us.
Million thanks to Giulia Orsatti for organizing this trip for us, for your hospitality and kindness. Thank you for teaching me the necessary Italian such as ‘c’ho l’abbiocco’ which means ‘I’m in a food coma’. A sentence I now say pretty much every day. You are an awesome person. Hope to see you soon!
I still have a lot more photo’s to edit. I will share them on my instagram once they are finished. Let me know if you like to read more blogs like these or if you have any tips! Until next time Italy!